Monday, December 29, 2014

Asparagus & Mushroom Risotto

It's been a while since I've posted a recipe, so here is one of my favorite quick meals. You can make it with or without chicken.

  • 3/4 cup chopped asparagus
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into small pieces (optional)
  1. If making with chicken, brown the chicken pieces first. 
  2. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Pour in the rice and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix in the asparagus, mushrooms, and basil, and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.
Super easy and very delicious!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Our First Thanksgiving without Family

This was the first year I didn't spend Thanksgiving with my family. It's a big deal for us, and I was a little down. And overwhelmed: it was also the first year I had to make the turkey! Since I would be cooking by myself with no one entertaining the boys, I got started two days before by making my mom's Puerto Rican stuffing. It was my first time making that too, and it came out just like my mom's! I was so proud of myself. It ended up being a huge hit on Facebook and at Thanksgiving dinner.

The next day I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, rice pilaf, and broccoli casserole, and let the turkey marinate overnight. I had Justin put it in the oven in the morning before leaving to play football with all the missionaries so I wouldn't have to wake up extra early.

Once up, I cooked the cheesy mashed potatoes and mashed sweet potatoes with orange zest while the boys watched a Thanksgiving cartoon. When the popper popped up on the turkey I checked the temperature, which wasn't where it was supposed to be, so I kept it in longer. I was more scared of serving an underdone turkey than a dry one. It ended up dry but not terribly so. There weren't much drippings, but it still made a great gravy! Last thing to make was Justin's boxed stuffing (yuck!) and then putting out the rolls, peas, canned cranberry sauce, and green salad.

The missionaries showed up first, and then a sister from our ward came just as I was finishing laying out the food. I had everything ready by 12:30, something we never accomplish at my parents' house even though there's more help!

Dinner was delicious, if I say so myself. Afterward, Sister Mathews washed my dishes before leaving (which made cleaning up later so much easier!) and I put the boys down for a nap. The rest of us watched the LDS movie The RM.

The past few weeks, the missionaries had been training me and put me on the 12-week program that new missionaries do. I had questions for them, and they offered to teach the first lesson on the Restoration as an example of how to use the principles I was learning. They asked me to play the role of the investigator (person learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ). At the end they asked me to pray if what they taught was true, and I was like, seriously? They told me to play along, so I did. It ended up being one of the most spiritually powerful moments in my life. Let me tell you--it's true! Those two young men have so much power and authority because they are so close to the Spirit due to their studying, praying, serving, and keeping high standards. I hope my boys become as strong of missionaries as they are.

The boys woke up toward the end of the lesson. We made the missionaries do the turkey wobble with us and then we had dessert. Sister Mathews had made a pumpkin pie-like dessert, I brought out the cookies, and I mixed together a quick fruit salad. We played the game Balderdash and had a blast! We also learned that one of the missionaries is an exceptional liar, tsk tsk. ;)

Our friends the Turbees came over so the hubby could taste the food I posted photos of on Facebook. I ate the turkey heart in front of them all but didn't get the reaction I usually do. I was surprised to find myself more disappointed than grateful for their politeness. After the game, everyone left and we put the boys to bed. Justin and I enjoyed some leftovers before going down ourselves. It was a much better Thanksgiving than I had anticipated! I am thankful for the wonderful people here who made it so fun and memorable!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Lakeside Collection Gift Basket Giveaway

Have you always wanted to give a gift basket but couldn't find one with the right gifts inside? Or the price was too high? The Lakeside Collection offers gift baskets that you customize, so you not only can put in whatever you want but also spend how much you want. There are five categories to shop from to please your outdoor friends, foodies, fashionistas, little princesses, and pet lovers.

The Lakeside Collection sent me the Curious Cook gift basket to review. Everything was wrapped superbly, so that although my package arrived a little banged up, the contents were safe and sound.

The gifts included were perfect for my family, too! I loved them all, and my husband was most excited by the bread dipping set. He wanted to go out that night and buy bread so we could use it right away!

The gift basket comes unassembled so you save on shipping and can arrange the basket however you want,  based on what you bought. Or, if you want to split the gifts among people, then you don't have to worry about undoing a fancy, pre-wrapped basket. Either way, there are assembly instructions online for a sample basket of each type so you can get a general idea of how to compile the gifts. This is how I assembled my basket (you can finish it by wrapping it in cellophane, though I prefer it without--better visibility and less waste).

*Customization of gifts and price with a variety of items and prices. 
*Low shipping costs.
*Gifts are high quality.
*Comes with return instructions and shipping label.
*If you're not into gift baskets, they have a ton of other unique gifts to choose from!
*Excellent customer service!

*Not the type of gift basket you can ship to a distant friend since it isn't pre-assembled, unless your friend is like me and couldn't care less about the presentation.

One of you lucky readers will win any gift basket of your choice! Enter in the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to the U.S. only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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